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A survey of arsenic species in Chinese seafood

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In the present report, thirty different types of Chinese edible seafood, including brown algae, red algae, fish, crab, shrimp, mussels, oysters, and clams, which are very popular foodstuffs in the Chinese kitchen, were examined for their total content of As as well as its different species. Total arsenic concentration in algae samples was 1.7–38.7 µg/g (dry weight), and 0.086–7.54 µg/g in fish and shellfish (wet weight), respectively. The arsenic species in seafood extracts were determined by using anion and cation exchange high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) coupled to inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICPMS). Arsenosugars were detected in all of the extracted algae samples (1.5–33.8 µg/g dry weight) and fish samples (0.018–0.78 µg/g wet weight). Arsenobetaine was detected in all of the extracted fish and shellfish samples (0.025–6.604 µg/g wet weight). In contrast, inorganic arsenic in fish and shellfish samples occurred at levels below 2% of the total arsenic. No inorganic arsenic was detected in the algae samples. This study provides information about the distribution pattern of arsenic species in seafood products. Since the major share of arsenic components in seafood is organic arsenic with a low toxicity, we can conclude that arsenic in seafood does not pose any risk to human health.

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